MySql+UTF8 woes


I am experiencing a strange problem when retrieving Unicode values from
my MySql5 database on Windows. Here is what I have:

  • All programs/modules in my application require in the beginning a file

    require ‘jcode’

in the beginning, ensuring that “everything is done in Unicode”.

  • I checked that the MySql database is “as UTF-8 as possible”, in
  • in the table editor of the MySql Administrator, the character set
    for the rows is listed as utf8 (with sorting order utf8_general_ci)
  • The “start variables” tab of the Administrator says utf8 for the
    character set
  • mysql.ini says
  • On the mysql command line, I see

mysql> SHOW VARIABLES LIKE ‘character_set_%’;
| Variable_name | Value |
| character_set_client | utf8 |
| character_set_connection | utf8 |
| character_set_database | utf8 |
| character_set_filesystem | binary |
| character_set_results | utf8 |
| character_set_server | utf8 |
| character_set_system | utf8 |

Indeed, the following works well:

When I store (from Ruby, via 'mysql' gem) a UTF-8 string
into the database, and later retrieve it, I get back exactly
what I had put in. This works equally well, whether I type
(using my UTF-8 enabled text editor) the character (for
example, a German umlaut) directly into the Ruby string,
which I then store, i.e. (table X having only one column)

  sqlstatement="INSERT INTO X VALUES ('ö')"

or whether I write the code point in hexadecimal:

  uml_o="\xc3\xb6" # ö, i.e. German umlaut-o in UTF-8 encoding
  sqlstatement="INSERT INTO X VALUES ('#{uml_o}')"

In both cases, when I retrieve the rows with
dbhandle.query(“SELECT * FROM X”)
I eventually get back the row with my “ö” as a UTF-8
2-Byte-sequence C3 B6.

So far OK. But there are several things which do not work:

(1) When I look at the database table using the SQL Administrator,
I do not see the letter ‘ö’, but instead the characters corresponding
to the Windows ANSI code sequence for C3 and B6 characters.

(2) When I manually enter data into the database using MySql
Administrator, by submitting the SQL statement
(‘ö’) the ö is displayed fine when looking at the table with a SELECT
using the Administrator, but when I read the table from Ruby, I do
not get back a 2 byte UTF-8 sequence for the umlaut, but only one
byte with hex code F6. Note that this F6 corresponds to the ANSI
code for ö in Windows.

(3) When I put the unicode data into a file, and use a Java application
to read the file and write the data into the database (using JDBC),
I look at the database then with MySql Administrator, I can see the
German characters; and when I then read them back with my Ruby
application, I get it encoded in Windows ANSI, not Unicode.

Observations (1) and (2) could be explained in the way that maybe the
MySql administrator interface was not written with UTF-8 in minde. What
surprises me more is that when writing data using Java (which is
Unicode aware) and reading it back with Ruby, causes somewhere a
from UTF-8 into Windows ANSI.

Does someone have experienced a similar problem and can point out a
reason for it?